Have you heard about the Tibber Pulse IR energy tracker already? If you’re like me, you want to save as much money on your energy bill as possible. Especially in a time when we don’t know how energy costs will develop, it’s important to avoid any unnecessary costs as well as possible. Tibber is heavily running ads on social media, and it might be that you already came across their posts on Twitter or Instagram. The Tibber Pulse IR is a device that wants to help you do just that. It’s a smart home energy monitor that gives you real-time feedback on how much energy your appliances are using. Tibber was kind enough to send us a test unit of the Pulse IR so we could prepare this review for you all.
What does Tibber offer?
Tibber is not only a provider of smart home devices, but they also offer electricity to you. Tibber claims to always be the cheapest option available by tracking real-time prices on the power exchange market. Tibber promises to keep your energy costs lower than ever before with no hidden fees or extra charges. Users would only need to pay a monthly fee of 3.99 EUR. This review today, however, focuses only on the Tibber Pulse IR smart home device and not on their service as a power provider. You can buy hardware from them, without opting for their power plans, so it made sense to check into one aspect at a time.
Tibber Pulse IR reviewed for you
Because the product looks great on the Tibber website and marketing, but people might still be unsure about whether or not it would be worth it for them, we tested the Pulse IR out, and here’s what we discovered through our weeks of testing.
What does Tibber Pulse IR offer you?
The Pulse IR is a small device that you attach to your electricity meter. The solution has a modern design and the idea behind it is quite innovative. Once you successfully connected everything, you will be able to see your current power consumption on the Tibber app. The data might not instantly reflect on the device, but, depending on your local network setup, it might take a few seconds to see changes reflected in your app’s dashboard, but for the purpose of finding out more about your power consumption this sort of delay is acceptable.
Beyond that, you can also integrate other solutions into the Tibber app dashboard, like your photovoltaic system, or connect the charging station of your electric vehicle. In my case, I was able to integrate my two SMA photovoltaic systems through the cloud and knew not only the power consumption but also what the solar energy panels are doing right now and their performance throughout the day. Of course, every solution has its own app too, but the real “smart” happens when you can bring many data points together.
How you can save money with Pulse IR?
With the Pulse IR from Tibber, you can determine which appliances are using up to what kind of power consumption. It will show you, almost in real-time, what kind of power you use in total, and can then start to switch devices on and off to see how much of a difference they make. You can find out the real consumption of lights, TVs, hair dryers, water kettles, and even your smartphone charger – pretty much everything that comes with a power cable or has a direct wire to it. Like this, you quickly find out about the biggest consumers in your own home and this helps you with making decisions to replace a potentially old appliance with a newer one because you’ll save much more on the power bill.
The app shows you a dashboard of your current consumption but there is also a timeline so that you can even interpret data peaks that might have happened a few hours back. The app shows you a peak time for the day, and the complete consumption for a day, but the data is only visible for 24 hours, which means this is not a tool you can use to assess trends over a longer period. For that, you need to be a subscriber to their power plans. I found it very interesting to go power hunting from room to room and toggle devices on and off to see the difference in the app. Another advantage is that I save because I changed my behavior. Knowing the hard facts of power consumption I was growing more conscious of what activities have what kind of impact on the power bill.
Knowing that the water kettle was one of the devices which had the highest consumption, I tried to avoid unnecessary uses. I saw what lights had an unreasonable consumption and exchanged the light bulbs, and generally switched the light off more rigorously even if I was only gone for a moment. So, there is a passive saving to be made as well because the behavior changes as the consumption data is much more present and you’re much more aware of that.
What do you need so you can use the Pulse IR?
Tibber’s Pulse IR is made for homes that use modern electricity meters and are equipped with infrared (IR) ports. Please note that it does not have to be a smart meter though. Beyond that, you need sufficient access to the meter to get detailed data. For instance, I first had to obtain a PIN from my power provider and a technician had to come on-site to unlock this option. Depending on the region you live in, this might be easier or harder to arrange, so it makes sense to check with your local power provider first. In my opinion, Tibber Pulse IR is not suitable for your if you live in an apartment without a dedicated electricity meter or if it’s not possible to reach the location of the meter with your WiFi network.
Tibber IR works wirelessly but it comes with a Bridge device to which it connects. The Tibber IR connects to the Bridge and the Bridge connects to the Internet via your WiFi router. Ideally, you would place the Bridge somewhere in the middle of the distance from your electricity meter and your router, but you might need WiFi extenders if your local network does not provide a sufficient range. If you are unsure about the requirements and compatibility it would be best to check the devices that are currently supported with Tibber. You will also need a smartphone and the Tibber app to be able to make this connection and see any data about your power consumption.
So is the Tibber Pulse IR worth it?
I have to say that the Pulse IR is a very interesting and innovative product, but its usefulness depends on reliability and unfortunately, it’s not that reliable. While it is functional, the service seems to be disrupted or down sometimes. At other times, the app is having issues and you might lose your devices in your dashboard. When contacting the support you get pretty generic suggestions, such as rebooting the phone, trying a different position with the Bridge, removing the Pulse IR from the app, and adding it back in, and sometimes that works, and other times it’s just a matter of time. One time the support even confirmed that there is currently a known issue that their developers are working on.
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Knowing that I have a fine WiFi signal even in the basement where the meter is located and also in the middle area, where the Bridge is located, paired with the fact that nothing here was changed before and after, is an indication of the root cause being something other than the local setup. Right now, our Pulse IR didn’t show up in the app for a couple of days already, and knowing about the solution being not that reliable, it takes away a bit of my initial excitement. Beyond that, it also took weeks to get everything sorted with the power company locally, and while I understand that this might be not a big issue for many power companies, there are still many people living in rural areas as well and I just want to make sure that you understand this requirement before you go out there and purchase a Pulse IR.
As a closing note, I want to emphasize that I like the solution and the idea that Tibber pursues, but they have to work on service availability, software quality, and support. There is room for improvement and seeing public reviews pointing out support issues and poor service, I think I am not the only one who made such an experience. If you want an app on your phone that can tell you how much power you consume right now, or consumed earlier in the day, if you want to identify power-stealing devices that cost you money even in standby mode, the Tibber Pulse IR is the right device for you. I also think it’s the only device out there that can help you with that, but be aware of the service availability and support challenges that a startup also sometimes has.
Over time, Tibber might be able to fix these issues, and then you’ll have a much more reliable solution. Tibber is currently available in Germany, Norway, and Sweden. They want to expand their coverage “soon”, but there is no information available as to when they will provide services in other countries.
YouTube: Promotional video by Tibber about the Pulse IR (in German, switch to auto-translated subtitles for other languages)
Photo credit: All media shown is owned by Tibber and was provided for press usage.
Editorial notice: We have received a sample unit for our test and review, but we have not been paid for the review article.